Boys/Girls Club ready to kick up some dust

By Ivan Sanders
STAR STAFF
isanders@starhq.com

   The smell of hotdogs and freshly popped popcorn are once again filling the air with a fragrance that can only signal one thing at this time of year, and that is a new season of baseball.
   Not only are the sights and sounds being experienced already by local colleges, high schools and middle schools, but the excitement is also growing at the Elizabethton Boys and Girls Club, where signups are wrapping up for the 2004 T-Ball and Peewee seasons.
   "Whether it is baseball, softball or tee ball, the Elizabethton Boys and Girls Club's main goal has been to provide the ideal environment for youth sports," said the club's director, John Malone.
   "We stress the importance of good sportsmanship and strive to provide the best possible coaches and instructors for our children."
   Apparently the Boys and Girls Club has accomplished its goal because last season alone there were more than 500 children served through baseball and tee ball, with expectations of more than 600 children or better to compete this season.
   Said Malone: "Our goal is to provide everyone with the opportunity to learn in a positive and safe environment. We would like for everyone to come by the Boys and Girls Club and see what kind of difference we really are making."
   Boys and girls between the ages of 5-7 are eligible to play tee ball while girls between the ages of 8-11 can participate in softball. The peewee baseball league fields teams of boys that are between the age of 8-10.
   The tee ball league provides an instructional league that allows learning the game of baseball in a fun and relaxed environment. Facilities that are provided to the players and their families as part of tee ball are some of the finest around, with a full concession stand, bathrooms, and picnic tables to enjoy the atmosphere.
   Peewee baseball provides a competitive level of baseball and softball that builds the foundation for future super stars. Pitching machines are used for both baseball and softball, which allows for a more accurate and consistent pitch for the players to hit.
   Girls softball has been one of the fastest growing sports that the Boys and Girls Club offers. With many young ladies advancing on to the collegiate level to play the sport in recent years, the initial exposure the club offers to girls 8-11 is very important to help build interest in the sport.
   Being a non-profit organization, the club relies on the fees they receive at signups to provide uniforms and equipment to those that want to participate as well as being able to provide adequate staff to work the games.
   "We are blessed to live in an area that so many people want to help us make a difference," stated Malone. "We could not be one of the fastest growing clubs in Tennessee without the help and support of so many businesses and individuals that have gave so generously to provide us the facilities we have, especially the club itself."
   Signups will come to an end on March 26, an extension of one week from the old date of March 19. Fees are $30 per player and a few sponsor slots are also open for only $250.
   Malone can be reached at 543-2946 if there might be other questions pertaining to the upcoming season.